General News

The Tavern Museum Is Closed Until Friday, March 31, 2017

The Courthouse Tavern Museum is closed until Friday, March 31, 2017. In the meantime we will open by appointment only. Please contact us via this website.

An Afternoon of Holiday Cheer At The Museum

On Sunday December 4 the King and Queen County Historical Society’s Courthouse Tavern Museum held its annual Open House. A large crowd gathered to hear the holiday music, shop, visit, and eat. Those attending were treated to music provided by King and Queen Elementary School first grade students under the direction of Mr. Fielding and the Central High School Pep Band under the direction of Mr. Guardino. Their performances enhanced the holiday spirit of the afternoon.

As Santa arrived two little girls were peeking around the bushes waiting to see him. They rushed over squealing, ”Santa are you real?” And good hearted Santa says “Real as rain!”. Santa was visited by young and old while an elf entertained with hand puppets. Children were invited to ride in a cart drawn by a miniature horse and have their faces painted.

Visitors were invited to tour the Museum. The regular exhibits were augmented by special holiday exhibits: toys from years past and a holiday train traveling through a Christmas village. A display of quilts and a demonstration of quilt making showed the delicate and precise handwork required to produce the intricate quilts.

Vendors provided shopping opportunities with a myriad selection of products.

Delicious refreshments were available from the Upper King and Queen County Ruritan Club, the King and Queen Central High School Theater Club, and the Tavern Museum Council. The Upper King and Queen Ruritan Club donated all their proceeds to the Central High School Theater Club.

The Courthouse Tavern Museum volunteers thank the community for their support and wish all a Happy New Year!

(Photographs by Alice Sheley)

Third Quarter King and Queen County Historical Society Meeting

On Sunday, July 24th Dr. Carroll William Westfall spoke at the 3rd Quarter Historical Society Meeting on how buildings and architecture traditionally shaped the civic order in rural settings. Dr. Westfall taught at Amherst College, at the University of Illinois in Chicago, at the University of Virginia, and retired in 2015 from the University of Notre Dame. He has published three books and numerous articles on topics from antiquity onward with a focus on the history of the city. Using images, he discussed how early local architecture evolved from rudimentary structures to the more classical style in public structures, from schools to government buildings, that promoted a sense of civic order and community. He noted the architectural features that unconsciously influence the behavior of individuals and emphasized that architects of public buildings today should use design elements that convey the power of a building’s purpose rather than solely focus on aesthetic features.

After the meeting, the attendees were invited to the Tavern Museum for refreshments.

Bland Family Visit

On a very hot, muggy Friday, July 8th, approximately 20 members of the 32nd National Bland Family Reunion group participated in a tour arranged by Ms. Susan Richardson, a Bland descendant. The visitors were from as far away as Texas, Oklahoma, and California. They first toured the Tavern Museum and the Courthouse Green Historic District. After lunch catered by the King and Queen County Women’s Club, via bus they visited various places connected to the Bland families of King and Queen.

At each of the 4 homes, the bus was greeted by a descendant of the home. Mr. Carlisle Bland spoke on his families’ history of Blandville at Shanghai. Ms. Betsy Martin Guy met the bus in the Centerville area to talk about Airville, the only home not standing. Hunter and Stacy Richardson, met the bus at their newly acquired home, Aspen Grove and Anne Trevilian Bland told about her grandparents home, Buena Vista at Cologne. Ms. Martha Edwards Hart who married a Bland descendant met the bus at Shackelfords Chapel. She gave a brief history of the church at Plain View and told of over 10 sections of Bland family plots in the cemetery. Refreshments were served before the tour returned home.

Ms. Richardson distributed a handout that contained pictures and notes about the home and churches on the tour and a genealogy of the associated Bland families.

Antique Adventurers Visit

On May 17, a very cool, bleak and rainy day, approximately 50 ladies from the Antique Adventurers group in Williamsburg spent the morning visiting the Museum, Courthouse Green, and Immanuel Church. The King and Queen County Women’s Club served them a delicious homemade “country” mid-day dinner. They then visited Mattaponi Church where the tour bus got stuck. Their visit ended at the Newington archeological site and Mr. Frank Hurst’s home in conversation with archeologist Ms. Bly Straub about the artifacts and with Mattaponi Chief Custalow about the Mattaponi River. One of the visitors characterized it this way: "The Trip, as I will call it from here to eternity, was the most informative ... the beauty of the land, the graciousness of the volunteers and the history they shared was more than anyone could have wished.  The added attraction of the super gale, delicious lunch to warm us up, the churches, the log cabin (schoolhouse), the Tavern, every place we visited was adding to the excitement of knowing we were somewhere really special that we really hadn't known existed within easy reach of Williamsburg.”

Virginia Hunting and Fishing Traditions

Mr. Lee Walker, Agency Outreach Division Director for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), gave an overview of the history of wildlife and hunting/fishing traditions in Virginia. The DGIF was formed 100 years ago to address the need for conservation of wildlife and fisheries, and preservation of their habitat. The abundance that was present in the 17th Century when the Europeans first came to this area was all but depleted by the start of the 20th Century. Mr. Walker reviewed lessons learned over the years and practices that have increased the availability of wildlife and fisheries for sportsmen, emphasizing the positive conservation influence over the years of many hunt clubs, and rod and gun clubs. He noted the economic benefit to Virginia and King and Queen County and emphasized areas for improvement.

Mr. Brownie Bevan reviewed the almost 60 years of the Bent Arrow Hunt Club located in the central part of the county and shared some demographic statistics about the members. Many of the current members are descendants of the charter members. He emphasized that they respect the landowners; contribute part of their harvest to the food bank at Bruington Church; and keep the roads clean in their area.

Virginia Women’s Monument Nomination

In March the King and Queen County Historical Society and Courthouse Tavern Museum in partnership with the J. C. Graves Museum were pleased to nominate Miss India Hamilton for the Virginia Women’s Monument commissioned by the Virginia General Assembly to commemorate the contributions of the women of Virginia. The monument will be located in Capital Square. For inclusion on the Wall of Honor the nominee must have been a native Virginian or have lived a great portion of her life in Virginia, and be known and recognized as a Virginian, or have achieved or contributed in a significant manner while living in Virginia. She must no longer be living and have died at least ten years prior to consideration.

Miss India Hamilton was born to former slaves in 1879 in rural King and Queen County. She rose from what would be called abject poverty today to become an educator and pioneer in creating literate, healthy, and prosperous rural communities at a time when many doors were closed to her gender and race. She obtained an excellent education and promoted education as a life-long process. As a Jeanes supervisor for most of her long teaching career in King William County and a leader in the Negro Organization Society, she was well known on a local, state and national level. Although she never married, she was known as “the Children’s Friend”, ensuring that Negro children had educational opportunities. A summer camp that offered organized recreational and educational enrichment experiences for Negro boys and girls throughout Virginia was named for her. In 1946 she achieved her goal of a Negro high school in King William County and in 1952 it was named Hamilton-Holmes High School. Today the middle school in King William County carries her name.

School Activities - First Grade Visit

On Friday, April 22 Mrs. Randall’s first grade Lawson-Marriott Elementary School students toured the Museum and participated in hands-on activities that demonstrated the differences between current activities and those of long ago. They giggled as they hand-washed clothes, put them through a hand-cranked wringer, and hung them up. In the 1880’s Eastern View Schoolhouse they wrote with quill pens and homemade ink. They carded wool and watched as it was spun into thread to make clothes. In the Carriage House they saw a buggy that traveled the county roads for over 100 years and the horse’s harness equipment. In addition, at the old Stevensville post office façade they experienced how letters were mailed in a country store. They ended their visit by ringing the old Marriott School bell.

Archives Building Renovated

The Historical Society is pleased to announce that the old Clerks office, now referred to as the Archives Building, has been completely renovated. The last major repairs were done in 1962. As with any 150 year old building the original project to repair damage caused by drainage problems and to remove asbestos in the flooring grew bigger because more problems were found and opportunities for improvements were recognized. The partnership and cooperation with the County has resulted in a building that provides a comfortable and pleasing environment for research and exhibits, and a well sealed climate controlled vault for storage of archives.

School Activities - Civil War Presentations

Ms. Carol Lowry, a King and Queen Elementary School (KQES) teacher and King and Queen County Historical Society member, in cooperation with the King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum, made the Civil War era in King and Queen County come alive for the 4th and 5th grades at KQES on March 25 and for the 4th grade at Lawson-Marriott Elementary School on April 26. To spark student interest she combined personal family history, artifacts, and anecdotes with highlights and pictures from local, state and national history covered in the Standards of Learning.  Flags, uniforms, insignias, weapons, spies, military leaders, local units, and music of both sides were covered. Ms. Lowry displayed reproduction Confederate and Federal uniform coats and hats, and two children wore them for display.  They viewed a segment of The History Channel documentary "Civil War Terror" that happened in King and Queen County. Local civilian life was included with women’s dresses, shoes, and accessories displayed. The interactive experience held the students’ attention throughout the presentation. They left with smiles and a better understanding of the Civil War.